HUNTERSVILLE – Discussion on proclaiming the Huntersville Town Jail as a historic landmark drew mixed opinions in the town board’s April 7 meeting, but the jail still got its designation.
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the jail, built in the 1930s and used until the 1960s, as a landmark. That status gives the property a better chance to secure grants and fundraisers to improve the building, which is in need of some repair.
The 30-foot-wide, 21-foot-deep, two-room brick jail needs major roof repairs. The roof is covered with a tarp, according to Principal Planner Zac Gordon. Some roof framing and millwork are also damaged.
The jail is located along Huntersville-Concord Road.
While commissioners all agreed on the historic landmark designation, they were divided as to why the jail deserved such a title.
“I see this as a direct link to where we were 80 years ago, especially with the police force,” Commissioner Rob Kidwell said. “What we have now is awesome, especially if you’re on the good side. To see where we are now and to have this still, makes me proud inside.”
Olde Huntersville Heritage Society President Rodney Conklin also spoke in favor of the designation. Conklin’s organization is one of the groups that will help raise money to repair the jail. No town money was approved for jail repair at the meeting.
“We’ve collected over 200 signatures from people supporting (naming the jail a landmark),” Conklin said. “There’s a huge interest in this. We look forward to working with the town to raise funds for this.”
Commissioners Jeff Neely and Melinda Bales also complimented the historical significance of designating the jail as a landmark.
Not everyone thought the old town jail was indicative of just growth.
“I view that not as a symbol of where Huntersville has come,” Commissioner Sarah McAulay said. “Education (as a reason) was a better wagon to ride.”
The board also made another historic designation to a local building.
Commissioners renamed the former police department at 102 Gilead Road the Robert B. Blythe Building, in honor of the town attorney. Blythe has worked for the town for 50 years and counting.